Mining interest cloud over Ramatlhodi

Johannesburg - Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi has mining interests in certain companies, as reported, but a process is underway for him to resign from them.

He held the mining interests before he was appointed to the portfolio, Ramatlhodi's spokesperson Mahlodi Muofhe said on Friday.

"He has already resigned from all his mining interests. It's a matter of when the legal process is completed and endorsed," he said.

"Legal processes are not like baking cupcakes or bread, they take time."

Muofhe was reacting to a report in the Mail & Guardian that Ramatlhodi holds a R20m stake in Atlatsa Resources, a black economic empowerment partner of platinum giant Anglo American Platinum [JSE:AMS].

The newspaper claimed his holding the shares implied he had a conflict of interest while mediating in the five-month strike in the platinum belt.

Muofhe said the shares belonged to the minister's ex-wife Ouma Ramatlhodi. He did not disclose what the minister's mining interests were, or their worth.

"The shares were held by his former wife. They were married in community of property. Now the minister and his former wife are divorced, but the divorce settlement proceedings are still ongoing," said Muofhe.

When Ramatlhodi was appointed to the portfolio, his first step was to approach his attorneys about his mining interests before intervening in the strike, he said.

"The minister declared all his interests. The minister, like everyone else, could not have foreseen that he was going to be appointed to this portfolio," he said.

"The very first thing he did was instruct his attorneys to put all his mining interests in a blind trust. The attorney advised him otherwise. The attorney said 'No, you can't put it in a blind trust, you have to resign from all these mining interests because of your new portfolio'. The minister complied with that and he resigned from all of it."

He said the legal process was taking its own course.

The day after visiting his attorney, the minister intervened in the platinum strike to try and resolve it.

"The minister has never had time, even to see his 98-year-old mother, who is no doubt sickly, because he was busy working on bringing the crippling strike to an end," he said.

"It is common knowledge that the minister has not even received his first salary this month. He was working extremely hard to resolve the strike."

Muofhe said the newspaper's allegation that there was a conflict of interest had no basis, because Ramatlhodi had mining interests before being a minister.

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